The Chairman of the House Agriculture Committee, Republican Glenn Thompson of Pennsylvania, has kicked off his work on the next farm bill, even though the panel isn’t officially organized yet.
Thompson held an unofficial listening session in Harrisburg, Pennsylvania, on Friday, joined by eight other House members. Thompson confirmed to reporters after the two-hour meeting that the House will move on a new farm bill before the Senate.
Thompson closed the listening session by ticking off many issues that came up, including crop insurance, cost inflation, ag research, nutrition assistance, and rural broadband.
Take note: He made a point of stressing the importance of research. “This is an industry that is not static, it's dynamic, and it will change. And we'll find innovations through great research … institutions, and working with commodity groups with public-private partnerships,” he said.
Bottom line: Thompson said the farm bill needs to “restore a robust rural economy and begin to grow our rural population again, to be able to support what we need to do.”
By the way: Maine Democrat Chellie Pingree, who attended the listening session, told Agri-Pulse she’s optimistic the farm bill will be bipartisan regardless of a likely fight over nutrition assistance. “We have a lot of bipartisan support for making sure everyone gets fed and having fresh fruits and vegetables in the SNAP benefit program,” she said.
House Ag GOP names roster
House Republicans have named their 27 members of the Ag Committee. The roster, announced Monday evening, includes 15 returning members. The twelve new members include Oklahoma Rep. Frank Lucas, who is returning to the panel he chaired during development of the 2014 farm bill.
Take note: Only nine of the committee’s members, including Lucas, were on the panel when the 2018 farm bill passed.
Ship leaves Ukraine with wheat for Afghanistan
The Antheia, a ship chartered by the United Nations to take about 16,000 metric tons of donated Ukrainian wheat to Afghanistan, left the Port of Chornomorsk in Odesa Sunday, according to the Joint Coordination Center. The JCC is charged with inspecting all grain vessels taking part in the Black Sea Grain Initiative – a UN-brokered arrangement agreed upon by both Ukraine and Russia despite the ongoing war.
The wheat donation to Afghanistan is the latest shipment in the effort by Ukraine and the UN to show that Ukrainian grain is flowing to some of the most troubled and poor nations, refuting criticism that the Black Sea Grain Initiative is solely benefiting rich nations.
But trade with wealthy nations is also steaming ahead. Three vessels carrying tens of thousands of tons of corn, wheat and sunflower meal to Spain and China left Ukrainian ports on Monday, according to the JCC.
Brazil soy harvest limps ahead
Brazil’s soybean harvest is slowly pushing ahead, but primarily in just the two states of Mato Grosso and Rondonia in the country’s Center-West region, according to the consulting firm AgRural.
Brazil’s soybean harvest is just 0.6% complete, down from 1.2% at the same time a year ago, and AgRural blamed weather difficulties.
In the south of the country, where the harvest has not yet started, it is the irregularity of rainfall that worries the producers in the state,” Ag Rural said.
The firm said it has cut its production forecast for the southernmost state of Rio Grande do Sul and will release the results publicly next week.
FDA continues to engage on animal biotechnology
The Food and Drug Administration plans to continue regulating animal biotechnology, FDA Deputy Commissioner for Policy, Legislation and International Affairs Andi Fristedt said on an Alliance for a Stronger FDA webinar Friday.
“FDA is really uniquely well-positioned to make sure that when we think about animal biotechnology, we’re making sure that those products are safe for humans, safe for animals and that they do what they’re supposed to do. I think we can do that while also making sure that we are really fostering innovation and having a risk-based and streamlined process for developers,” Fristedt said.

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FDA’s oversight of animal biotechnology has been the subject of criticism by ag industry groups that would like to see USDA take the lead role. Groups such as the National Pork Producers Council believe FDA’s approach slows down implementation and stifles innovation due to high costs and lengthy review timelines.
Last year, FDA issued a low-risk assessment on PRLR-SLICK cattle that have been gene-edited able to withstand high heat, a decision that Fristedt says shows the agency can work alongside genetic developers to make advancements in biotech animals.
Iowa loosens HPAI restrictions 
The Iowa Department of Agriculture and Land Stewardship has lifted restrictions on live bird exhibitions at fairs after the state went 30 days without a new case of highly pathogenic avian influenza.

The now-defunct order, put in place on Nov. 10, also prohibited live birds from being sold or transferred at auctions and markets, according to a release.
Iowa Agriculture Secretary Mike Naig said the state is continuing to monitor for HPAI and remains “ready to quickly respond” if spring migration brings a resurgence of the disease to the area.
He said it: “So often, when people hear about Dr. King, people think his ministry and the movement were most about the epic struggle for civil rights and voting rights. But we do well to remember that his mission was something even deeper – it was spiritual. It was moral.” – President Joe Biden, in remarks at Ebenezer Baptist Church in Atlanta Sunday.
Philip Brasher, Jacqui Fatka, Bill Tomson and Noah Wicks contributed to this report.

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